tv Washington Week PBS January 7, 2011 8:00pm-8:30pm EST
gwen: a big week in the nation's capitalwith new faces on capitol hilland a lot of familiar faces at the white house. we explore what it all means, tonight on "washington week." >> i now pass this gavel, which is larger than most gavels here, but the gavel of choice of mr. speaker boehner. [laughter] >> the people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin to carry out their instructions. gwen: a new agenda on capitol hill -- cutting government spending, repealing health care -- >> the folks in my district told me month after month they wanted this thing repealed. gwen: and re-embracing patriotism.
>> congress shall make no law respecting an accomplishment of religion -- jpsgwen: while at the white house, a major retooling as the press secretary shuffles out. >> i would not trade the worst day i've had here for many of the best days that you might have in another job. gwen: and a new chief of staff and top economic advisor shuffle in. and not a moment too soon, as the jobless rate finally drops. >> we know these numbers can bounce around from month to month, but the trend is clear. gwen: is washington about to become a very different place? the reporters covering it all, john dickerson of "slate" magazine and cbs news, major garrett of "national journal," julianna goldman of bloomberg news, and jeff zeleny of "the new york times." >> award-winning reporting and analysis. covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capitol,
journalism foundation, the an enberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to our pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. this was a getting-to-know-you week in washington as scores of new lawmakers moved in and the white house pulled off a giant job swap. the faces are notable, but so are their agendas. today, the president introduced his new economic team by singing the praises of government incentives -- >> our mission has to be to accelerate hiring and to accelerate growth. and that depends on making our economy more competitive so that we're fostering new jobs in new industries and training workers to fill them. it depends on keeping up the fight for every job and every business and every opportunity to spur growth. gwen: meanwhile, new speaker
john boehner was sponsor into office warning of rollbacks to come. >> our spending has caught up with us, and our debt soon will eclipse the entire size of our national economy. hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th congress. no longer can we fall short. no longer can we kick the can down the road. the people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin to carry out their instructions. gwen: but with a new uptick in job creation in december, the president seems to sense some wind at his back. and with a new majority in the house and a stronger minority in the senate, republicans sense opportunity as well. let's start at the capitol, where speaker boehner wasted no time letting the democrats, and members of his own party, know who is now in charge. how different is this new majority, major? >> demonstrably different.
obvious the yood logical and the party identification change is clear. but there's even a different way these republicans in the house approached power as opposed to the way dick armey and others approached power before. it was how they were going to take the great deal and the new society. you saw nothing of kevin mccarthy, the majority whip on purpose. this was a strategic effort on their part to be humble in the approach of power but also try and manage expectations not only externaly but internally. boehner, canter and mccarthy sevened in state slurs. they know the game and -- legislatures. they know the game and how eager the house republican freshmen are so they have to model late their appearances,
their tone and try to keep the tea party inspired house republicans from overtaking the agenda. it's a very difficult thing to maneuver through. >> gwen: john, i was struck by nancy pelosi's speech in handing over the gavel where she basically said the democrats were right, even though we lost. how much different is his little going to be from hers? >> major talked about the differences between newt beginning rich and boehner. gingrich said 6,000 words in 1995. boehner about 1,300, only 30 more than nancy pelosi. in 2007 when she came in she had movie stars richard gere in the speaker's box. boehner had the boehners, the family. boehner's first nidge his speech was about the ash wednesday ceremony of smearing
ashes on the forehead. you come from ashes and to ashes you will return. that is a message for an age of austerity. his message is we're here temporarily and you heard the words humility almost every other sentence. gwen: modestty is the theme. >> yes. and you'll hear them say when 10% of the country is unemployed, everything has to be both modest and also focused on that. when they talked about repeeling health care they called it the job-killing health care bill. gwen: over and over. >> yes, the title of the legislation itself. the point there is if you're going to talk about anything it has to be in the jobs context. if you bring to it boehner he won't do it unless it's got that job connection. gwen: seldom do we see this much change on both ends of pennsylvania avenue in a single week as we did this week. we see the new chief of staff
at the white house, bill daley, who has been to washington before as secretary of commerce. why him ? >> he brings a unique skill set right now. you have the political on a national level. you have the economic portfolio of commerce secretary. the business portfolio, j.p. morgan executive. he brings a unique skill set as the white house looks to 2012 and also working with this new congress. he's got goringting skills as well. he's also a communicator and there's a void right now in the white house with the departures of david axle rod, with rocket gibbs. it leaves obama as the chief spokesperson. daley is going to be a surrogate for the administration and with the business community as well. also, he's fresh blood in there and they really needed someone to shake things up.
gwen: even though he was not fresh booed blood in prior administrations. they seem pro business all of a sudden at the new white house. >> they do, but one of the differences i think has been overstated. bill daley is not that much different than rahm emanuel, the first chief of staff. the stance obama said he was going to choose rahm emanuel, the left went crazy, he's to -- too centrist are. they need someone who commands some discipline. i'm told that things in the white house were getting sort of informal. i was talking to governor bill richardson at the end of last year and he said they really need a weiss man at the time of christmas. and i think this is a wise man. i spoke briefly with president obama on the phone this week. gwen: or should we say he called you up? >> he called. he was wanting to sing the
praises of robert gibbs, his longtime ade. he's stepping aside as well. i asked him if he's going to spend a lot of time putting his second team in place. he said there's no time for dili dallying. we have a lot of work to do. i think it was clear at that moment that these statue changes are happening quickly but it is time to engage with this congress. gwen: listening to the president talking about we have to get right to work and listening to speaker boehner on the other hand saying we're here just to do what the american people the -- sent us to do. it seems we have managers rather than ideologues, which is what we paid so much attention to in this campaign. >> that's right. they're both basically trying to beat the other on who can define the spending question faster. there are funding projects, but they have to figure out how to
fund the government and also this question of the debt ceiling, a very highly charged question of raising the debt ceiling and there's some opposition to that. they're both trying to find out who can quickly define this so that it can go guard in the most favorable terms, but the process of getting the numbers to match up -- gwen: we've been quizzing republican after republican about this. judy woodruff on "the newshour" this week talked to dave camp, the incoming chairman of the house ways and means committee. >> so you're saying that $100 billion is a number that republicans can reach? >> we will have $100 billion in cuts, when you compare the president's budget with where we end up, absolutely. gwen: does that sound like it's open to interpretation? >> it is depending on how you look at the calendar.
and the first conversation house republicans are going to have to have is wh their grassroots supports who looked at the campaign rhetoric that said $100 billion in savings in our first year. is that a physical year or a calendar year? the republicans very briefly say, look, the fiscal year is half over. we can't cut 100 billion out of this fiscal year. we can't find the cuts for that but over the next fiscal year and what remains of this one we'll get to $100 billion. that's all domestic, nondefense, not veterans side. are their members going to will -- be willing to take the political heat? secondly, will grassroots republican supporters, tea party and others accept that timeline. they may want it more rapidly. on the debt ceiling, everyone has to agree on this. john boehner can say to the
president i have a coalition that will support x number of cuts. will you accept that? the president says yes, boehner can say we have a real ability to make real cuts. the debt itself and the negotiations for boehner. gwen: chuck schumer is the best example of the democratic pushback to this theory and this strategy. >> at every turn they're adding if's, and's and but's to their campaign promises. we're here to say these reckless fiscal policies are dead on arrival. gwen: basically this is the, we're going to undercut them and say they don't mean what they say. >> that's exactly what they're going to do and senator shumeer is one to watch. not the senate majority leader
but the closest thing to it. but there's no question democrats are trying to hold republicans accountable for everything and they know they're not going to make good on all their promises. the senate is one place where democrats still have the ability to sort of do something because they're still in the majority. what is going to be the most interesting are the senate grats and the white house. are they going to be left out when the speaker boehner and the president are making some kind of a deal? >> especially the white house as their -- they're seeing republicans right now, it's not show me the money but where the money isn't. and one place where the white house does have leverage is that demps and republicans voted for $858 billion to be added to the national debt in that tax cut deal/stimulus, which we won't call a stimulus.
>> one thing about that deal and tea party activists is republican leaders can explain why they can't do $100 billion in the fiscal year but add that to the nearly a trillion that they spent on the lame duck. the conservativists have had to have three or four excuses. gwen: does it help that they got the symbolic vote on cutting their own budget leading up to repeeling health care next week? is that the manager's way of saying, ok, we're giving you something and then we have to go -- >> that's the approach they're going to take. the majority leader eric cantor told me that every week there's going to be a spending cut measure on the floor. the health care repeal acts will pass with republican support. that will be a campaign promise box they can check. so the managers of the house republican majority believe by
putting forth these kind of sequential votes they can build a coalition. it is a theory at this point. gwen: and what is the pushback theory in the white house? >> even with the health care vote they added $230 billion to the deficit. so that was a nice gift. gwen: i think mr. boehner's response was oh, those are funny numbers. >> let's go back to the gingrich era. there is one reason only in washington today that they're the ultimate scorekeeper. it was the showdown of the government in 1999. before that, white house said no, others keep score. one of the long lasting policy victories for republicans, though they lost completely on the politics on that day was to put the c.b.o. dead center. republicans say now c.b.o. numbers don't matter, that's stretching things historically, factly and politically. >> and i think democrats
believe there is a bit of political upside in having this health care debate over again in some respects, threat -- at least. the democrats are hoping that republicans look extreme, that they're trying to take away aspects of the hurricane bill that people are ok with. a bigger problem is what if it does pass the house, which it probably will. it gets to the senate. how many uneasy senate democrats are there who they -- may vote to repeal it? any people up in 2012? >> does it even have to come to the floor? >> i would think so. >> the only way it would matter is if outside republican groups, for example, begin running ads and saying senate so-and-so, you're up in 2012, call your senator. >> senator nelson, for example. gwen: which is why they're against further -- >> there are 13 house democrats who voted against the health
care bill in the last congress who came back in this one. only two so far have said they're going to vote for repeal. the others have said i want to know what the replacement is. so house democrats believe they've found a safe harbor. >> in between repeal and the alternative, which will take a long time to go to the committee process. democrats are hoping to reverse what republicans did to them on the health care. when the health care bill was being put together, the republicans would take a little bit, call it death panels or whatever. but democrats hope to reverse that. take the best parts, proximate -- prescription drugs, helping middle class families, use those to say they want to get rid of these wonderful things the. gwen: it seems to me this week is like a teeing up between now and the state of the union at if end of the month and that both sides are rushing to
define what happens next. we saw the new head of the old house oversight committee. started us off by saying he thought this administration, or at least the president was corrupt and then back peddling and saying what i meant was this. because that's not the message they want to send. on the other hand the white house gets these good job numbers today. >> i think chairman isaiah is very happy with -- iss a is very happy with a lot of oversight but he's being reigned in. speaker boehner is dead set on keeping a strict and disciplined approach. because that is the fastest way to get the american public to turn on this house republican majority is by wild and crazy oversight. the white house counsels office has been staffing up with lawyers, but i think the
oversight thing may not be as big as but we once thought. >> what you saw today from the white house was trying to be able to frame these job numbers. 9.4% unemployment, down, but 103,000 jobs were added in the month of december, when 150,000 jobs had been expected so. this was really a mixed bag. what you saw from the president was to say the trends look really good. 12 months of consecutive private sector job growth but we have got to do a lot more and the next phase of my presidency is going to be securing recovery, boosting jobs and economic growth and the way to do that is to be sure the u.s. stays as a global power with china and india. gwen: especially next week there's going to be a big run-up to the president's visit from china. >> he's looking into a lot of
different areas and what speaker boehner would like him to do is focus on the regulations that have gotten in the way of job activity. you'll see him get into a lot of the things pop you will gated in the first portion of the obama administration. >> but speaker boehner wants other committee chairman, probably less visible nba than darrell to also get into the issues of education and labor, ways and means. e.p.a. regulations on greenhouse emissions. gwen: because john boehner is basically a processy guy. as we saw this week during the reading of the kunce institution, which -- when someone screamed about obama not being a citizen, the birthright issue is coming back
again. in many ways he and john boehner and barack obama are not so different. how do they keep the reins on their people to keep on message? >> john boehner -- one of his many skills and anyone who becomes speaker is a skill politician. that's a definitional obvious steament. one of his key skills is member-to-member relations. he can have direct candid coverages with every republican. there are numerous stories of boehner looking them in the eye and saying what do you want? no, i can't give that to you, next. and them say, wow, i did get a straight answer. gwen: but at the white house there is not going to be a congress-centric white house staff anymore and that's part of what bill daley is there to do. >> it is one of the reasons he's there. he'll remind this president that he has the pow of the
executive branch. you'll see a lot more executive orders, and the power of the cabinet as well. a lot of cabinet sex were former governors. they -- secretaries were former governors. they formed a group, a coalition and said wait, we know how to win elections. we've done this before so i think you'll see a lot more from this cabinet going forward. but you're right, this is not a congressional centric white house. he'll be in the country more, they'll be talking to the country more. talking to the private sector more with business. gwen: how well do barack obama and john boehner know each other? >> minimal. >> there was a scene that boehner talks about -- back barack obama is not known for a lot of heavy emotion, and he basically pointed at boehner and said you're scaring the country. gwen: because of what? >> because of the way that republicans were campaigning in the run-up to the campaign that
they were trying to frighten the country. there's been talk about them going golfing but you can imagine what kind of circus that would be. >> speaker boehner said he's a better golfer and he's right about that. -- that. gwen: the big two issues for obama are trailed. that's where he's going to be dealing with house republicans. gwen: we'll be watching all of itful we got our plates full. thank you, everyone. you can read owl of major's story on john boehner "seeing red" in this eke's "national journal." we're through here for now, but the conversation continues online with our "washington week" webcast extra. and keep up with daily developments online and on the air all week on "the pbs newshour," then join us again next week around the table on "washington week." good night. download or weekly pod wags and take us with you.
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